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Top VDI and end-user experience monitoring tools

Infrastructure and end-user experience monitoring are critical to the effectiveness of your VDI deployment, but it can be hard to know what to look for in a monitoring tool. Products from Liquidware Labs, Lakeside Software and others hit the mark.

One of the most important tasks in a VDI deployment is end-user experience monitoring. To do that and to troubleshoot performance, connectivity and application issues, you need VDI monitoring tools.

There are many tools on the market that have some form of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) monitoring built in. Other products are dedicated to VDI and end-user experience monitoring. When you're evaluating monitoring tools, make sure the one you choose addresses these important requirements:

End-user experience monitoring. You can measure the end-user experience by looking at application response times, desktop stability, bandwidth use and accessories, such as USB devices. Many tools focus on monitoring this area of your VDI deployment, and they might even deliver metrics that help you measure the quality of the user experience.

Infrastructure monitoring. The health of the infrastructure supporting your VDI environment can affect performance and resource availability. If storage is not performing well, then you can't deploy or refresh desktops properly. If the CPU and memory are overtaxed, that can cause all users' sessions to stop responding.

Application monitoring. Employees use applications to get work done, so the main focus of any VDI environment -- and thus the VDI monitoring tools -- has to be the applications. Your VDI monitoring tool should be able to tell you how often employees use which apps, how many resources those applications take up and which workers use them.

Network and protocol monitoring. The monitoring tool you choose should keep track of how VDI uses your network and how well your protocol is working over that network connection. Network performance depends on many factors, such as where end users connect from, how many users and applications access your data center and how the WAN bandwidth is used. And each protocol -- Remote Desktop Protocol, HDX or PCoIP -- affects the network differently. Your VDI monitoring tool needs to understand the protocol you use so that it can troubleshoot the network.

Sizing modules. A nice feature to have with any VDI monitoring product is a tool that helps you understand how to scale the environment up when you need to add the next 100 -- or 1,000 -- users. Sizing modules on monitoring tools are often presented as what-if scenario engines.

There are more than 15 different VDI monitoring tools on the market. There are standalone tools and ones that have VDI monitoring as a component of a more comprehensive product. Some of them are very well known in the virtualization community and they have been around for a significant amount of time. Some of these tools include:

Liquidware Labs Stratusphere

Liquidware Labs Inc. has been around since 2009, and its products, such as Stratusphere , ProfileUnity and Flex-IO, have always focused on the end-user experience.

Stratusphere has two modules: FIT and UX. FIT is an assessment tool that lets you monitor desktops and applications so you can size your VDI deployment. UX is a diagnostic tool that gives you detailed metrics on the end-user experience. It ties into VMware and Citrix virtual environments, and it lets you monitor physical desktops as well, which helps simplify the data it gathers for you.

Stratusphere UX also has a validation tool that can help you scale and size VDI environments. It can also ensure that your current VDI rollout meets your design specifications. And it has a health check tool that lets you do in-depth troubleshooting and root cause analysis of the end-user experience, applications and infrastructure.

One unique feature of Stratusphere UX is a VMware vCenter Operations Manager (vCOPS) plugin that adds Stratusphere statistics to vCOPS for a larger view of your deployment.

Lakeside SysTrack

Lakeside Software Inc. has been around for more than 16 years with heavy attention on monitoring the end-user experience. The company also brought in big data analytics engines to help organizations understand the data from many perspectives.

The SysTrack product suite has 10 modules with multiple features. SysTrack vScape is for VDI monitoring, Visualizers handles end-user experience reporting, Virtual Machine Planner lets you model and design VMs, Transform helps you size and scale your environment, and there's a help desk module called Resolve. There's also Power Manager, alarm management in Operations, assessment and reporting in MarketPlace, FastTrack for accelerating Citrix projects and a tool for root cause analysis. SysTrack is more than a VDI monitoring tool; it helps you manage many operations and lifecycles in your environment.

EG Innovations VDI Monitor

Founded in 2001, eG Innovations' tools focus on intelligent performance monitoring platforms. The company has a suite of monitoring products for infrastructure, servers, applications and VDI.

VDI Monitor works with Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop and VDI-in-a-Box, as well as VMware Horizon View and all of the supporting technologies. All of eG Innovations' monitoring tools incorporate end-user experience monitoring.

VMware vCOPs for Horizon View

VMware Inc. has a full portfolio of end-user experience products including vCOPs for View, which gives you visibility into the Horizon View environment. It monitors performance, health and efficiency, as well as the PCoIP protocol.

One of the major benefits of vCOPS for View is its ability to measure your VDI environment against all of the other aspects of your infrastructure, including storage, networks and server-side applications. You can only get vCOPS for View through the vCOPS Suite, but that means you can also use the other features of the suite to manage your deployment's performance, configuration and capacity.

Other tools on the market that meet many VDI monitoring tool requirements include Xangati's VDI Dashboard, Aternity's Virtual Desktop Monitoring, Goliath Technologies' VDI Monitoring and SolarWinds' Virtualization Manager for VDI.

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